Ever say to someone you love “you do that all the time” or something similar in anger? I do. I say I love these people (often it’s my wife and I know I love her) and yet I keep a record of their wrongs [bad things I think they have done to me or somehow adversely affect me]. If God were to do that to me as a Christian and I had no blood of Jesus to cover my sin, I would be in serious trouble. No way could I make up for the things I have done and have any hope of getting to heaven. God, whose grace is unbelievable and whose love knows no bounds, keeps no record. How do I know this? How dare I speak for God? I know because He has revealed this to us in His Word: Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NLT).
It’s love month at the Calvary Chapel I attend. February we break from the traditional “book by book” study and get into the topic of love in a big way.
So often in our culture we think of love in reference to the love between husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend or the love of a parent. It’s the last I wish to put first — in considering the love of God for His children.
To really ponder this, let’s take a look at some of that famous chapter on love in 1 Corinthians:
1IF I [can] speak in the tongues of men and [even] of angels, but have not love (that reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion such as is inspired by God’s love for and in us), I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and possess all knowledge, and if I have [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but have not love (God’s love in me) I am nothing (a useless nobody). 3Even if I dole out all that I have [to the poor in providing] food, and if I surrender my body to be burned or in order that I may glory, but have not love (God’s love in me), I gain nothing. – 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (AMP)
I spent some time in my youth with people that did a lot of shouting and praising the Lord, speaking in tongues and prophesying. I came to know Jesus and acknowledged His love for me during my time with them. I also came to realize that some of them seemed really different outside of that hour and a half of church in their day-to-day lives — and it didn’t necessarily coincide with what I saw and heard on Sundays. You know what? I am positive they could have easily said the same thing about me. and would have been 100% right. Sadly, the message of the Cross gets lost in gossip and “backbiting” and love seems to elude me [and some of my fellow Christians].
I love Jesus. Not as perfectly as He loves me, for sure! But I do. When I get involved in criticizing others, with motives not truly generated with love and a desire to help them, I am not living in the love that Paul writes about here. He describes with great beauty what love is and what it is not. Truly, if anyone doubts the Bible as the inspired Word of God, read this chapter and tell me how a human being could come to such thoughts of love as Paul did. Often, the best I feel I can offer is a very poor imitation of God’s perfect love. Certainly, I could never describe love as eloquently and completely as Paul did.
I know that when I focus on God’s love for me as proven by His incredible grace, I cannot help but feel that love and wish to give it others. I am compelled by His love to do so. When I reach that place, I realize that ‘legalism’ and petty theological differences pale in comparison to His love — and are really what matters at the end of the day, especially since I can’t work my way into heaven. 1 Corinthians 13:9 says: For our knowledge is fragmentary (incomplete and imperfect), and our prophecy (our teaching) is fragmentary (incomplete and imperfect). (AMP). In Ephesians 2:8-9 we are reminded of the following: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (ESV).